The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings
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The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,880 ratings  ·  179 reviews
The Marquis de Sade, vilified by respectable society from his own time through ours, apotheosized by Apollinaire as "the freest spirit that has yet existed," wrote The 120 Days of Sodom while imprisoned in the Bastille. An exhaustive catalogue of sexual aberrations and the first systematic exploration-a hundred years before Krafft-Ebing and Freud-of the psychology of sex,
Paperback, 800 pages
Published 1966 by Grove Press, Inc. (first published 1785)
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mark monday
'tis the season...


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yes i know that Mr. Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade was all about the freedom of the spirit and the power of the mind to free itself from all fetters, and that those are the underlying themes of all of his works... ugh, who cares? too much genital mutilation and too much shit-eating does not make me want to embrace freedom, it makes me want to lock people up!

i loathed the Pasolini adaptation, Salo. pictured above.

on the other hand, the Peter Brook...more
Only one essential is missing from our happiness--pleasure through comparison, a pleasure which can only be born from the sight of the unhappy, and we see none of that breed here It's at the sight of the man who isn't enjoying what I have and who is suffering that I know the charm of being able to say: I am happier than he is. Wherever men are equal and differences do not exist, happiness will never exist.

Following such ill-found advice I am left unable to rate or compare 120 Days of Sodom with...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 21, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
A long disgusting book. Granted that this is well-written and the author wrote this for patriotic reason, I still don't like this book.

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) wrote 120 Days of Sodom to disgust the French people against the corruption in the government of King Louis XIV. Sade was an French aristocrat, revolutionary, writer and a libertine, i.e., one that devoid of moral restraints. This book, 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings is an erotic book with his philosop...more
This is not one for everyone. I am not sure if it is intended for ANYONE actually.

Here are the ravings of a lunatic. Explicit, alluring, majestic--a bunch of adjectives that contradict each other. A man imprisoned does his damn hardest to escape his jail by writing about what he knows and likes best: sex. There is just soo much detail upon detail that you know that in the 36 days it took the Marquis de Sade to concoct such a phantasmagoria of gore he rested not much. This is marathon writing......more
Jan 27, 2010 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers desperately wanting to appear subversive.
Chances are, if you own this book, you've never finished it. And the reason why isn't because you were disturbed or offended or shocked, but that by about Day 35, you had become so completely deadened, you just quit. Reading this book is a litmus test that proves how quickly you become inured to graphic violence and once you do, how tedious it becomes. The effect is kind of like watching a "A Clockwork Orange" backwards. Or listening to adolescent boys trying to one-up each other with gross-out...more
The Marquis de Sade was an extraordinarily interesting historical figure, but as far as I can tell, he wasn't actually a very good writer. Admittedly, this is the only one of his books I've read, so maybe I'm missing out on something, but if this is how he always writes, he makes Stephenie Meyer look like Shakespeare. I managed to get through the entire thing, but only because I made myself. I was probably unconsciously punishing myself for something, because NO ONE should ever do that. Not only...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The book presents one of the many ways men imagine heaven to be.

Four wealthy men (the "heroes") assemble a cast of former prostitutes (who'll serve as their storytellers and supervisors to their sex slaves), cooks (to prepare their meals), servants (to attend their other needs), beautiful boys/men and girls/women (some of them their very own daughters/wives, a majority kidnapped from various places), for the sole purpose of giving themselves pleasure.

Heaven for 120 days. Marquis de Sade wrote th...more
Read as the result of being downloaded online with two giggling friends. Oh, the youth of today! Nothing good was on telly. The giggling didn't last long, however; this is the fastest way to desensitise yourself in the most boring way ever. This is the setup: A group of people listen to some old slag relating tales of her misspent youth, then they go off and have some jolly japes reenacting her sage wisdom. Rinse and repeat. It's dull after a few pages. You'd think for someone locked in the Bast...more
Todd Crawford
What's more shocking than the exploits of the novel's libertine protagonists is Sade's philosophy which precedes his time with musings to make Freud jealous long before his term. This book is not written for the casual reader, or many people at all, but rather the cancers on the face of the planet such as de Sade himself, who live Nietzsche's laws to the fullest, and expect nothing of life but to usurp it and its inhabitants of all pleasure. Although it is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it is...more
Michaela Lugo
After Watching Quills I was engulfed in the character Geoffry Rush played, the character being the Marquis De Sade. After some quick IMDB research I learned the Marquis De Sade was in fact real and wrote many stories. I knew I had to read them. I ran to the library and picked up 120 Days of Sodom. First, I read a few essays preceding the story, all focusing on the Marquis from different angles, one being biographical and psychological, another focusing on him from a religious perspective another...more
This is a radical socio-political tract. Sade explores the lack of morals, guilt, religious remorse and a social conscience through the eyes of narrators from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low.
Hence amidst scenes of the utmost degrading debauchery, executed with slavering zeal, we have long orations on human nature, God, politics, libertinage and how man is not created equal, polemic which is delivered to us via prostitutes, procuresses, a banker, a high ranking politician and a d...more
This book is disgusting, perverted, horrific, and violent. I love it. Sadly, de Sade only completed the first few chapters, and the majority of the work is in note-form.

The plot overview is simple. For five months, from November till March, four wealthy perverts and a host of other characters, including eight boys and eight girls (aged 12 to 15), eight studs, who are chosen by the size of their genitalia, the daughters of the four main characters, and four old, ugly women.

From month to month, t...more
Jun 11, 2012 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Radicals, libertines, philosophers
Recommended to Michael by: Robert Anton Wilson
Viewed as a critical introduction to a historically significant thinker, this is at least a four-star book. It places the Marquis within his literary, philosophical, and political context well, and gives several viewpoints (including his own) on his importance and originality. As a work of literature, the main work “The 120 Days of Sodom,” is probably one of the most difficult pieces of “narrative” (and I use that term loosely) to read that one could choose. In terms of enjoyment, I could probab...more
(This was not exactly new reading for me, but I just wrote an essay largely on it, hence the 'date read' above.

Also, trigger warning. I quote from Sade, albeit briefly. Quote is in italics, so you can skip it if you so choose.)

Sometimes I think of myself in opposition to Sade.

This is too simple, of course. I can and have defended Sade on a variety of occasions, in a variety of different contexts; I don't think he should be censored, and in fact am quite glad that his works have been published an...more
Jul 27, 2009 Becky rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Woodchipper

I bought this book a while ago, and a couple weeks ago I decided to pick it up and read it... I did, but with much skippage for sanity's sake.

Now, I will admit that I have a bit of a morbid fascination with someone who has a term for a deviant trait named after them. I picked up this book thinking that, yes, it would be unconventional and probably not exactly pleasant reading material, but also that it would be something of a look into the man himself, even if it is fiction... Oh, let us h...more
"The 120 Days of Sodom," boasts the broadest collection of disgusting sexual practices and perversions that I have ever read. However, that's exactly what de Sade set out to write, so that's hardly a damning statement. The gist is simple- four powerful, dissolute men abduct a group of beautiful children, hire various male and female prostitutes, and lock themselves and their daughters in a citadel where they, guided by the day's prostitute-storyteller, ritualistically perform as many outrages as...more
It is worthwhile to skim a few passages online to see what the fuss is about. But it is extremely repetitive, so there's no reason to buy the book and actually read it. His prose still has the ability to shock. Even the "Saw" movies owe a debt to him:

"He chains one of the girl's hands and secures the chain to the wall; he leaves her thus, without food. Near her is a large knife, and just beyond her reach sits an excellent meal: if she wishes to eat, she has but to cut through her forearm; otherw...more
This was a class assignment (again for Lit. History). I don't believe I would have ever deliberately sought out this book otherwise (curiosity killed the cat, you know). The Marquis de Sade is disgusting, evil, grody, and....highly detailed. I think that those who overuse the word 'sadistic' should read the book and rethink most of the things they have said.
Christopher Roberts
So I am giving this two stars because there are other things in the book that are interesting and worth reading, if for no other reason but to get a perspective on De Sade's thinking.

The best thing in the book, by far, is Simone Beauvoir's essay, "Should We Burn De Sade" where she effectively makes De Sade seem ten times more interesting than actually reading him would be. De Sade's whole thing is that morality is a sham and that the seeking of pleasure is the only thing worth anything in the w...more
Dominique Perregaux
I read this book around 15 years ago. It is a compelling and frightening book as it list most of sexual deviance. If someone is interested in core SM, then this is the book to read instead of 50 shade of...

The history of the book is fascinating. Sade wrote it while jailed at the Bastille, on a long scroll. When the French revolution broke, Sade was freed with all other prisoners. His liberation was so chaotic, confused and fast that he could not take his scroll (it took him years to write the ma...more
120 Days of Sodom was devised as a literary encyclopedia of aberrant sexual practices, but it was never finished. De Sade, imprisoned in the Bastille, wrote the first of four parts, but was removed from prison before he could finish the remaining three-fourths, which survive only as an outline.

Unfortunately, most of what he completed focuses on coprophagy. Unless you're heavily into handling and eating feces, this quickly gets monotonous, since no one enjoys hearing other people drone on about t...more
Adrian Colesberry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kit Fox
Bit of a misnomer here. I'd more accurately call it "The 30 Days of PissingShittingandFarting Followed by 90 Days of Inquisition-era Torture Porn." Honestly, this just went from 0 to gross-as-hell in a few pages and stayed that way at the point of sheer and utter monotony. Wasn't even naughty, just boring, unrelenting, and annoying. If this were the only volume of de Sade's works that survived, I think the literary world would've been all, "Yeah, he's a real dirty birdie and not a very good writ...more
Isabella Diana
Oh guys I will speak in french because my english is very bad, but I really like this book and I assume it! J'ai vraiment adoré ce livre, on voit bien la mentalité d'un psychopathe sexuel enfermé dans une prison ou il ne peut accéder à ses orgies quotidiennes. Ce livre est une sorte de défoulement de sa pensée , comme si il vomissait toutes ses envies à travers sa plume. Faut penser que ce livre a été écrit en prison où est-ce qu'il n'avait que sa pensée et ses fantasmes pour se ...réconforter.F...more
While this book is kind of like -- rather, is -- pornographic candy for the pathological, sometimes my perverted sadomasochistic mind needs to be fed. And this is what I feed it. Fucking twisted shit. 5 of 5 because it truly is amazing in just how twisted and wrong it is -- like a pile of mutilated dead babies would be amazing. NSFW!
An astonishing companion to Blood Meridian. Same archons. Same brutality. Same "ambition, vanity, and lust for dominion." Same setting: Anareta.

Both appallingly didactic.

Easy to read as a metaphorical gathering of Tea Partiers/fiscal conservatives/Wisconsin Republicans/etc.
Eric Dirker
When it comes to debauchery there is none who can compare to MDS.
John Fisher
I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't exactly an easy, casual read. Then again, I'm not an easy, casual reader. This had been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years, but I finally found the time and summoned the interest to read it entire. Many people say this book is boring and repetitive. I agree, to an extent. But I read the book with great interest because of its historical significance. You really can see how Sade has shaped the way we think of sex, the body, and the psyche, via Freud,...more
I found this at a used bookstore for a dollar and since it is on the 1001 book list I picked it up. YES, I knew what it was when I got it. I don't live under a rock. This is quite possibly the most vile and disgusting book I have ever touched. I knew it was going to be bad but it surpassed every pre-supposition I had about it. Maybe because I have young daughters that were the same age of the girls that were being used in this book. I could not even get through it, it made me so sick. I am not a...more
The "other writings" referred to in the title of this collection include some novellas that stand with some of the best literature of its period. The cruel ironies of "Florville and Courval" would have inspired O Henry, and "Ernestine" offers some extremely well drawn, complicated characters in a short work, the same basic premise of the play "Oxtiern," also included.

As for the title work, we can only imagine what its weight and merit would have been. After a meticulous introduction that provid...more
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Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and writer famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts; in his lifetime some were published under his own name, while others appeared anonymously and Sade denied being their author. He is best known for his...more
More about Marquis de Sade...
Justine The 120 Days of Sodom Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings Juliette Philosophy in the Boudoir or, The Immoral Mentors

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“Sexual pleasure is, I agree, a passion to which all others are subordinate but in which they all unite.” 110 likes
“Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary, whilst ugliness is something extraordinary, and there is no question but that every ardent imagination prefers in lubricity, the extraordinary to the commonplace” 60 likes
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